UK Policy Briefings
Spring Budget 2022: Local government and gender
Date Posted: Friday 18th March 2022
“Women and girls depend disproportionately on local authority services because they do most of the unpaid child/care work and therefore rely on local services to support themselves and their families. Women – particularly BAME and disabled women – have been seriously affected by funding cuts to local government since 2010.”
Local government provides or funds many services crucial to women and those they care for, including social care, schools, housing, domestic violence services and transport. Many of these services provide care to children and adults in need of support. Because women do the majority of unpaid child/care work they depend disproportionately on such services, which redistribute unpaid care and give women more opportunities to participate in the paid economy.
Women – particularly BAME and disabled women – have been seriously affected by funding cuts to local government since 2010. This has been exacerbated by social security benefit cuts and Covid-19.
“The 2022-23 local government funding settlement means that central government funding to councils will have been cut by 30%-50% since 2015-16”
The 2022-2023 local government funding settlement represents a further 1.8% cut in the central government grant to councils from 2021-2022 levels. This means that since 2015-2016 central government funding will have been cut by 30-50%. Local government is an important source of women’s paid employment; in 2021, 75% of council employees in England were women.
“The ‘levelling up’ agenda is unlikely to be furthered by the 2022-2023 funding settlement. Many councils are still having to cut services or use reserves to compensate for cuts since 2010.”
The ‘levelling up’ agenda is unlikely to be furthered by the 2022-2023 funding settlement, although some councils with high deprivation levels will have increased spending power compared to more affluent ones, having faced higher historic cuts. Many councils are still having to cut services or use reserves to compensate for cuts since 2010, and an increased dependence on council tax will hit the poorest local authorities hardest. Increased and sustained central government investment is needed to reverse the damage done to local services over the past twelve years.
The Women’s Budget Group is calling on the government to urgently implement its long-promised Fair Funding Review and provide sustainable, long-term local government funding at a level that enables councils to meet their statutory duties and provide the local services that women and local communities rely on.